The parallels between Drew Hastings and Donald Trump have always been striking, both for the reasons that some people support them and the reasons that other people despise them.
Their commonalities are many. They are both outsiders challenging the establishment, and doing so without the governmental background and political correctness most politicians have mastered. Their critics say they are too crude in their language, too insensitive in their social media posts, too mercurial in their temperament, and too unethical in regard to their public office and their business dealings. They are both even regularly lampooned for their hair. The only thing Drew’s critics haven’t accused him of is colluding with the Russians. Yet.
They also both face an organized Resistance that crosses party lines. Since The Donald came along after Drew, politically speaking, it’s too early to say, beyond their failure to deny Trump the presidency last year, whether the Trump Resistance will have any successes.
The Hastings Resistance has more of a track record. They tried to defeat Drew in 2011 and lost. They tried to hand him a setback in the 2013 council elections and lost. They tried to defeat him in his reelection bid in 2015 and lost.
Their non-election efforts have likewise come to naught. They challenged his residency with the Ohio Attorney General’s office to no avail. Their “citizen’s complaint” alleging malfeasance was dismissed. The connected criminal felony case resulted in two charges thrown out by a judge, while a jury acquitted him on two other charges.
As for Drew, he is hardly blameless. He unnecessarily hands the Resistance ammunition on a regular basis. In turn, people constantly run to city council, and especially its president, Lee Koogler, to tattle on Drew as though Lee is everybody’s daddy, and as though council has authority over the separately-elected mayor.
“Daddy! Daddy! Drew said something mean! Do something, Daddy!”
I imagine Lee has reached the point of many frustrated parents and just wants to reply, “Daddy’s busy. You guys work it out.”
The Hastings Resistance is bound to take at least some solace from the upcoming council races. At least three new members will be joining council, even if every incumbent is reelected. Whatever happens when the results are tallied on the evening of Nov. 7, the Resistance will claim some sort of victory. No matter how you feel, you almost find yourself happy for them. They deserve something more for their endless efforts than a participation trophy.
In the meantime, the current city council has important decisions to make before the new council is seated, including whether to join or continue contracting with the Paint Creek fire and EMS district, and whether to approve the formation of two Downtown Redevelopment Districts. The formation of the DRDs is a no-brainer and is only being made controversial by campaign politics. It should be approved unanimously, and could be the most lasting, positive legacy this council leaves the city.
Like all Hillsboro residents, I can only vote for four council members, the one in my ward and three at-large candidates. But if I could vote for a candidate in every ward, along with the at-large candidates, I would vote this year for four Republicans and three Democrats. As I said, the Resistance crosses party lines, and I think there are Democrats on the ballot who would work better with the mayor than some Republicans.
I suspect that the members of the Resistance who are excited about this election might end up disappointed in the long run. The majority of candidates will, I think, work with the mayor even when the Resistance doesn’t like it.
I appreciate the city council candidates who responded with answers to our profile questions that are being presented each day in The Times-Gazette, especially those who answered all the questions. Most of the replies have been thoughtful and enlightening.
Several candidates answered our question about the mayor by saying that while they like many of his initiatives, they don’t like his controversial social media posts. Same here.
The Times-Gazette did not endorse in the council races four years ago, and we will not be endorsing in this election. I have a sister running for reelection to council and a niece running for city treasurer. I could remove myself from our endorsement process, but if we ended up endorsing my relatives, some would still claim that I must have had a hand in it.
Do endorsements matter? Probably not, in terms of influencing winners and losers. So why do it? I was taught years ago that newspapers have a responsibility to take leadership positions in their communities, and sometimes that includes making endorsements. In the last six years we have endorsed Republicans, Democrats and independents, as well as taking positions on various issues.
One way or the other, Hillsboro City Council will have some new faces come January. If the Hastings Resistance thinks that’s a victory, I hope the council members themselves, whoever they may be, will prove them wrong.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.